Wednesday, February 04, 2009


DID YOU KNOW? … A vehicle is stolen approximately every 26 seconds in the United States, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau; that adds up to 1.2 million vehicles a year! Vehicle thefts are the nation’s number one property crime, costing an estimated $8.2 billion dollars a year. Whether or not your vehicle is stolen, everyone pays the price through higher insurance rates. In the City of St. Louis, a vehicle is stolen approximately every 41 minutes. We are pleased that these numbers are better than the national average, but we are not satisfied, and want to do better. There was a time when you only needed to park your car in a well lighted area or have a car alarm installed. Unfortunately, times have changed, and car thieves have become more determined than ever to steal your vehicle. A significant number of vehicles are stolen during the early morning hours, when the owner is asleep and unaware of the theft. The auto could be used to commit additional crimes or driven at high speeds, putting innocent lives in jeopardy. WHAT CAN I DO? ... The St.Louis Police Department endorses and strongly recommends the “layered” approach to protecting your vehicles from thieves. Layer #1 (Common Sense, and costs nothing) LOCK ALL YOUR CAR DOORS Every time you’re out of the vehicle, regardless of where you are or how short of a time you will be gone, make sure your car doors are locked. CLOSE ALL WINDOWS Thieves have tools and other means to gain entry through even the smallest of openings. Layer #2 (Visible/Audible Devices) Visible and audible devices are the least expensive and probably the most important to have. Thieves want to avoid being noticed, and don’t want to spend much time stealing your vehicle. They are more apt to avoid a vehicle they see is protected. Here are some ways to let the thief know that his efforts will be difficult and he will draw attention to himself. Bar Locks This device is commonly referred to as the “Club”. It is attached to the steering wheel, making it impossible to steer the car. There is also a model that connects the brake pedal to the steering wheel, making it impossible to use the brakes. Both items are brightly painted, highly visible, and avoided by most car thieves. Auto Alarms They are loud and attract attention - something the thief doesn’t want. When the alarm is set, a visible light blinks, which tells the thief that an antitheft device is installed on the vehicle. Layer #3 (Immobilizing Devices) Engine Disabler or Kill Switch This device is hidden within the vehicle, and, when turned “on”, cuts power to the starter. Fuel Switch When turned “on”, this mechanism stops the flow of fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. The vehicle “runs out of gas” within a very short distance. Layer #4 (GPS Tracking Device) This device, installed on some car make and models, is activated after your vehicle is stolen, and helps locate it. The device sends a signal to a satellite that gives you real-time tracking, via the Internet. Simply log onto your Internet account, click to “update location”, and view a map with your vehicle precisely located. A satellite photo of the neighborhood is even available in some areas. In some cases, you can even disable the ignition and lock the doors. Officer Don Veile Second District Public Affairs

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